Isle of Dogs star Bryan Cranston wades in on cultural appropriation controversy

Some critics have questioned whether Wes Anderson's new film exploits the culture it homages

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 31 March 2018 15:46 BST
Isle of Dogs trailer

New Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs has found itself at the centre of a controversy in recent weeks with some viewers debating whether it's exploitative of the culture it homages.

The film - the director's first since The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2013 - is a futuristic tale set in a fictional Japanese location which sees all canines banished to an island of garbage, and follows a young boy (Koyu Rankin) on a journey to help the exiled animals, including his pet voiced by Liev Schreiber.

Inspired by icons of Japanese culture, namely Akira Kurosawa, the film has not sat well with some viewers with many praising the stop-motion but criticising the way it chooses to celebrate certain aspects it's homaging.

Bryan Cranston, just one of the film's many voice actors, waded in on the controversy telling The Independent he's unsure how such a debate has been founded.

Upon being asked if he was ever concerned Anderson wouldn't nail the sensitivity required for pulling off such a film, the former Breaking Bad star said: “No, I wasn’t concerned at all about that. [Anderson] spoke often about Kurosawa and other Japanese filmmakers with such awe and inspiration.

“I heard there’s a controversy but I don’t really know what it’s about or how it’s founded. I don’t go into social media myself, it’s just what I hear.”

He elaborated: “Can one err even in the best intentions? Of course. If you do something that’s not risky at all you have no problem going about offending anyone. But if you take a chance and go into a realm that is a little nugget of something that is different, that is riskier? Yes, you could be. So I don’t know.

“Art should in some cases be very relatable so that you see a movie and go, 'I know this guy, I like him, I know where he lives, I'm very familiar,' and then there are other art forms that should introduce you to something you are not familiar with - to welcome you - and Isle of Dogs has that sense of the culture, the language. the drumming. It is an introduction to something you’re not familiar with and it adds to the fabric of the storytelling.”

Cranston also shared the one thing he pitched to Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan for his character Walter White that didn't make it into the final show, just weeks after Gilligan himself revealed his two biggest regrets about the series which ended in 2013. You can read the full interview with Cranston here.

Isle of Dogs is in cinemas now

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